Happy Valentines Day Ladies! I’m so excited and very honored to have J. Kenner with us…you know, Author of Release Me (the Stark Trilogy)!!!!! Isn’t it just like having Damien Stark with us for Valentines?! Well as close as we’ll ever get! 🙂 First she answers some questions then she gives away a signed paperback copy of Release Me!!! Read on….
Jessy: Tell us a bit about yourself.
J. Kenner: Sure thing!
I’m a former lawyer who always wanted to write, but somehow found herself in law school. I loved law school, though, and after graduation, I clerked on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It was a great job, but it didn’t leave a lot of time for writing, and I had the bug. (I did write a Really Bad Play while I worked at the court. It shall never ever see the light of day!)
After that, I moved to California and did entertainment law for a while. I met a lot of cool people, did some fascinating First Amendment work … and continued to battle the urge to write (difficult as young lawyers do not have a lot of spare time).
Eventually, though, I dove in full throttle, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been writing full time since 2004, just a few years after my oldest daughter was born. (We have two girls and two cats!)
I live in Texas now (where I grew up), and I drink way too much coffee and adore dark chocolate!
Jessy: You gave up your law career to write. Looking back, what would you have done differently between leaving your career and starting the new one?
J. Kenner: Not a single thing.
(and now you get the long explanation of that very short answer!)
When I graduated from college with a degree in film at 19, I was too shy and too chicken to try to move to LA and become a movie person, partly because I had no idea what I wanted to do in the movies. All I really wanted to do was write, but I’d caught (and still have) the movie bug. I love cinema and after working on a movie, I switched my major from journalism to film. Loved it, but didn’t feel prepared to tackle that world. And colleges don’t really prepare you for the kind of freelance life that is the lot of a writer. So though my love from a writing standpoint was novels, I didn’t know how to do that, and I was too chicken to pursue the film thing, and I’d already decided that journalism wasn’t my thing, as I was painfully, painfully shy back then, and the idea of interviewing someone was not making me a happy person.
So I took a not-terribly-exciting job in the media center of a local community college. I got tired of being broke and not having a career, and so I took the LSAT and went back to school. I had never considered being an attorney, but found that I had a knack for it. I did fabulously in school and loved it. I was the geek who would camp outside a professor’s door to ask mundane questions about work that hadn’t actually been assigned. And I ended up clerking on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then, two years later, moving to Los Angeles. I had some fabulous times in my practice and met great people. And I got over being shy. When you have to stand up in Practice Court and recite the Rules of Civil Procedure from memory, you learn to get over those fears.
I did fun things like meet celebrities and corporate chairmen and take depositions and argue summary judgments and write briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. But I still had the writing bug, and one thing that being a lawyer in a really big firm and/or a really busy firm doesn’t allow for is much free time. Eventually, I started writing again, but it wasn’t until my husband and I moved back to Texas that I really settled into it. I moved to a firm that understood the concept of both excellent work and free time. I wrote on weekends. After my daughter was born and my career was doing well, I cut back to four days. And after Carpe Demon was optioned for film, I was able to quit to write full time. So there never really was a gap between one and the other.
But the heart of your question is what would I change about the shift in careers, and the answer is nothing. Every one of those experiences shaped where and who I am today. Without the law part and the move to LA, I wouldn’t have met my husband. Without my family, I doubt I would have thought to write about a demon-hunting soccer mom, and on and on and on.
Jessy: What was your inspiration to write “Release Me”?
J. Kenner: I was between projects and pondering stories. One was a magical realism series that I really love (hardly any sex), but at the same time I was also interested in writing something that was really hot, but in which the sex is so intricately tied to the growth of the characters. I wanted to create smart but damaged people who had learned to live their lives “behind masks.” And I wanted to see how their attraction and their physical relationship changed them and gave them strength. I sent a tv guide blurb to my editor, and she loved it, so I went ahead and did a synopsis. The story literally flowed out of me. Twenty-two single spaced pages in one night! But it was worth it. Bantam loved it and bought it and now I get to spend time with Nikki and Damien!
Jessy: What kind of music gets your creative juices flowing?
J. Kenner: My writing juices? None. I really don’t like to write to music.
My general creative juices? Pretty much anything. I don’t *know* music that well, but my husband and kids do. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Taylor Swift and Nightwish and quite a few singles that my kids buy and then they show up on my iPhone since they use my account! Broadway musicals, though? Those I know. At least, ones from the past. I’ve lost track in the last few years!
Jessy: I’m a huge tennis fan! Did you have a male tennis player in mind when creating Damien’s character? Or anybody in mind?
J. Kenner: Very, very, very generally I had Andre Agassi in mind because a) I think he’s hot, and b) he moved from a tennis career to a philanthropic career.
Jessy: There was a hint of BDSM in the story. Is Damien a Dom?
J. Kenner: He’s not. There’s a difference, I think, to being “a Dom” and to liking control during sex (and the rest of your life). He doesn’t give up control easily, but neither is he strict with the rules with Nikki. It’s much more of a game with him, a tease–and fulfills Damien’s need to be in control of pretty much everything around him. Is it BDSM? Definitely those elements are there between the two of them, but it’s not a dom/sub relationship even if there might be dom/sub-like play. More important, though, Damien’s not into labels. What he’s into, is Nikki 🙂
Jessy: The words “You’re Mine” do something to me and a lot of women 🙂 It’s so caveman you’d think most women in this generation would be offended. What do you think it is with women fantasizing about being owned, possessed?
J. Kenner: Oh, my. That could probably be a dissertation. I think it harkens to both biology and ego. There is something so satisfying about knowing that your partner desires you, wants you, claims you. There’s nothing romantic about being wishy-washy. But a bold statement of ownership? That’s flattering and sexy and digs deep into our basic need to be loved and to find a partner.
Jessy: Erotic Romance is big at the moment. You’ve got authors who usually don’t write this genre trying their hand at it. Do you think it’s a phase or is it here to stay?
J. Kenner: What’s funny is that I’m going to give you the same answer to this that I gave to a similar question about vampire paranormal fiction. It’s here to stay, but it isn’t new. Just as vampires were a hot topic centuries ago, so was erotica. In fact, erotic art and erotic literature have been around for, well, forever (just walk through a museum or check out the Kama Sutra or the original-not-for-kids version of the Arabian Nights). I’ll grant you that it’s bigger than it has been in a while, and my own theory is that ebooks have a lot to do with that. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of folks don’t want to carry a copy of The Story of O around to the doctor’s office. But your Kindle is anonymous. You could just as easily be reading Rebecca as Release Me (frankly, I think you should read both!). So we’re in a time where technology is winning over puritanism 🙂
Do I think that erotica will stay at the level it’s at now? Probably not. All genres see cyclical sales. But the fact that the stigma of reading “those books” has faded coupled with the ability to read on your phone or ereader will, I think, play into a long cycle of erotica and, even when it falls, it won’t crash.
Jessy: You’ve written different types of genres, which one would you say was your favorite or easiest to write?
J. Kenner: Good question. You know, I don’t think it’s a question of genre for me. It’s really a question of story. Some books are easier, some harder. I will say that my favorite pov to write in is first person. I love writing from the heroine’s point of view!
Jessy: You write as J Kenner, Julie Kenner and J.K Beck. Why the multiple pseudonyms?
J. Kenner: I started out as Julie Kenner because that’s my name, and I published as Julie Kenner exclusively from 2000 to 2010 when the Shadow Keeper books came out as J.K. Beck. My Julie Kenner books were all over the map genre-wise, but for the most part they were lighter and quirkier (superhero romances, demon-hunting soccer moms, chick lit suspense, lighter contemporary romances, young adult…). I only had 3 books as Julie Kenner that I would consider “dark,” and those were the Blood Lily Chronicles, an urban fantasy trilogy told in first person from the heroine’s point of view.
The Shadow Keepers books were something new and different. They are dark. They are deeply paranormal. They have characters who live by a moral code that not everyone is going to agree with. And some of the heroes are in need of some serious redemption. So we wanted a line of demarcation b/w those books and the Julie Kenner titles. Thus, J.K. Beck was born!
When I sold my current erotic romance, Release Me, Bantam was happy to go with Julie Kenner. But about that time I was starting to dip my toe into indie publishing, and two series that I know I am going to continue are the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series (some edgy darkness later in the series, but no sex) and my YA vampire series (definitely no sex!). So I wanted to make clear that–although these books are written by me–they are different. And, most definitely, not for kids or teens.
Jessy: What should we expect next from J Kenner, Julie Kenner and J.K Beck? 🙂
J. Kenner: The next two in the Stark trilogy, obviously. And I also have a sixth demon hunting soccer mom book coming out very, very soon. I was fortunate enough to get the rights back to most of my demon hunting soccer mom books, so I’ve delayed the publication of book 6 (Pax Demonica) until I get the earlier books back on sale. (I’d planned to put it out in 2012, but I wasn’t expecting the rights thing. Kate’s fans are waiting, so that’s tops on my priority list!)
And I’ll be indie pubbing my urban fantasy series, The Blood Lily Chronicles, and some new superhero novellas.
And, finally, doing the third book in my reluctant vampire YA series as well as a Shadow Keepers novella. All of thatshould happen in 2013! Wish me luck … and 36 hour days!
Jessy: Thank you so much for joining us Julie!
J. Kenner: Thanks so much for having me!
J. Kenner is the pen name of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Kenner (who also writes dark, sexy paranormal as J.K. Beck). Release Me, an erotic romance, is the first in the Stark Trilogy, and is a New York Times bestseller, and has been on the USA Today bestseller list for multiple weeks. It has already sold to over a dozen countries, and the international editions are starting to roll out, with the upcoming U.K. and French paperback releases.
You can hang out with J.K., learn more about Release Me and her other novels as Julie Kenner and J.K. Beck, or just poke around and see what catches your eye at her website, www.jkenner.com, and also at her J. Kenner Facebook page, www.facebook.com/jkennerbooks and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juliekenner.
Read my review of Release Me here.
The giveaway is open internationally. All you have to do is leave a comment below. Lets make it fun…. Comment and tell me the first erotica/erotic romance book you ever read 🙂 While you’re at it, head over to Jessy’s Book Club on Facebook and like the page 🙂
Giveaway closes on Saturday 16 February 2013 at 17:00 EST.